There was a breakdown of kaw and order for several hours in the Jabi District of Abuja on Tuesday when policemen fired live bullets and tear gas at members of civil groups who were protesting the continued closure of the Corporate Headquarters of the Peace Corps of Nigeria in spite of two different court judgments against the Police.
The civil groups stormed the sealed office as early as 8:00 a.m in a peaceful protest demanding that the office located at 57, Iya Abubakar Crescent, Off Alex Ekwueme Way, Jabi, Abuja be opened for the owners in compliance with two judgments of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Trouble however started when fully armed policemen in five pick-up vans arrived the scene and ordered the protesters to disperse immediately.
The detachment got angry when the placard-carrying protesters attempted to engage them in dialogue on their mission.
In the confusion that ensued, the policemen fired gunshots sporadically and also tear gassed the group which also comprised some officers and men of the Peace Corps.
Unconfirmed reports said two protesters were hit by bullets.
The tear-gassed protesters beat a retreat but re-grouped and continued their demand for the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to obey court order and show respect for the rule of law.
The two protesters who received gunshots wounds were dumped into one of the Police pick-up vans, with a demand that the police be responsible for their hospital treatment. The policemen complied.
The Police ream led by an Assistant Police Commissioner, Mr. Danlami Yusuf Taura, resorted to dialogue and pleaded with the civil group officers to continue to be peaceful and also promised to convey their message to the police high command.
Taura declined to answer questions from the reporters at the scene of the protest and referred them to the Police Force Public Relations Officer Mr. Jimoh Moshood.
However when contacted on phone, the police spokesman said that it was the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command that deployed police to the scene and pleaded that he be given time to speak with the Commissioner of Police in the command.
Earlier, the National Commandant of the Peace Corps, Ambassador Dickson Akoh, had appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the IGP to order.
Addressing the protesters, Akoh specifically pleaded with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Assembly, and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami SAN, to prevail on the Police to obey court orders.
The Commandant claimed that his organization rented the office at a yearly sum of N13.8m adding that since February 28, 2017, when police invaded the office, his men and officers have not been allowed to access the office complex.
“I plead with police to allow us to continue to operate as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). We attempted to become a statutory body within the confines of the law but regrettably, the Police fought us to standstill and sealed up our office without any just cause”.
“The two chambers of the National Assembly passed a bill that the Peace Corps be made a statutory body but Mr. President declined to give assent to the bill and yet, police have refused to leave our office for us to operate in spite of the two court orders that they vacate the office for us.
“The police have achieved their aim of sabotaging the Peace Corps from becoming a statutory body, so they should leave us alone. They should allow us to access our office on the order of two of the federal high court”.
At the time of this report, a heavy police truck with no, NPF 3641C was used to block the entrance to the office complex where the two court orders were pasted on the gate.